Friday, 20 March 2009

Middlesbrough hope Stoke home form will falter

The majority of the football previews doing the rounds on the web have been concerned with those teams at the top of the Premier League battling it out in what still, despite Manchester United's humbling at the hands of Liverpool last weekend, seems to be a foregone conclusion.

Manchester United will be hoping to recapture their form when they come up against a Fulham team which has emerged as resolute and defiant during several key matches this season, whilst Chelsea will no doubt be worrying about meeting a Spurs team which has managed to shed its old fear of playing the Blues.

However, one of the real clashes of the weekend, which may not provide neutral spectators with much to be excited about but which will no doubt provide ardent fans with more than enough nail-biting moments during the course of 90 minutes, will be played out at Stoke.

Tony Pulis' side will be up against a Middlesbrough team competing without Matthew Bates after the midfielder was sent off against Portsmouth, whilst Pogatetz and Aliadiere are sweating on fitness problems, causing Gareth Southgate unneeded anxiety.

Stoke are currently sitting two points above Middlesbrough in the relegation zone and both sides have a similar goal difference. The fact remains that even if Middlesbrough manage to record a win against Stoke, they still face a tough test in escaping the drop into the Championship.

Gareth Southgate, who has been questioned by many football pundits this season, has been quick to thank the club's chief executive, Keith Lamb, for remaining resolute in his support. The Middlesbrough board has displayed a patience and loyalty that some believe will prove detrimental to the long-term success of the club but the manager disagrees with this opinion.

The young manager revealed that having "internal backing" is essential and having such a strong support system allows him to perform his job adequately. Southgate believes that his job is to keep the team in the Premier League and the manager is "not thinking about the scenario of falling".

Stoke will do their best this weekend to make sure that the pressure on Gareth Southgate's shoulders remains. Unfortunately for Middlesbrough, Stoke's home form has been impressive and the players are relying upon their winning home habit to keep them up.

No comments:

Post a Comment